Erik and I went to the symphony last night and heard the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle (who, as Erik succinctly describes him, “has hair”). They were divine. Every note was incredibly articulated, and the dramatic contrasts were wonderful. I liked the first piece, by a contemporary German composer named Goebbels. The second piece, Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta,” was also nice, but Erik got more out of it than I did–it’s one of his favorite pieces ever. At intermission we wandered around Davies Symphony Hall and noticed some crew guys lowering the piano through a big trapdoor-type lift in the stage floor. We were peering in and I commented that now we know where the piano lives. Erik wondered if the celesta was there also. We didn’t see it, so I remarked lightly that maybe the celesta doesn’t live here. One of the crew guys turned to us and replied, “It doesn’t live here. It lives in Berlin.” He pronounced it “Bear land.” I couldn’t tell whether he thought we were childish or just amusing. Oh well. We learned something new.
The last piece, after intermission, was my favorite of the three performed that night, and is also one of my favorite pieces in general: Beethoven’s sixth symphony, the “Pastoral”. Also known as the centaur piece in Disney’s Fantasia (the first one). They took the first movement much more slowly than I’m accustomed to, but I found it lent a totally different mood to the music, a bit more rustic, I think. The “Thunderstorm” movement in particular just blew me away (pun intended, as it was practically a tangible effect). I think I may have clutched Erik’s arm at one point. Which is totally fine, since I believe he also clutched my arm during a particular section of the Bartok. Yes, music lovers are strange people. After the performance was over I stood up and clapped like I would never do anything else in my life. When we got home, one of the first things we did was check to see if there were any seats available for tonight, but of course it was sold out. We had only bought tickets for one night because the second performance included Debussy’s La Mer, which we heard the SF Symphony perform last year, and it was so wonderful then I didn’t think the Berlin orchestra could do better. Boy do I wish I’d known how amazing they were… *sigh*
The concert was definitely smashing; we’d gone to another concert last Thursday and I certainly didn’t get as much out of that. But I think it’s also possible that a major reason I enjoyed this concert so much was because of where we sat. We were seated in the center terrace, which is an unusual section that I’ve not seen anywhere besides Davies. The terrace is a raised section behind the orchestra, so that’s facing the conductor and all the other listeners. It’s a small section, and since the spotlights are on the orchestra, the patrons seated in the terrace are also pretty visible to everyone else. I believe it’s this aspect of terrace seating, combined with the open seating (Erik and I were lucky to get seats together, since we arrived just before the start of performance–we didn’t realize there were no reserved seats), that makes the terrace seating cheaper than almost any other section of the hall. Plus if there are soloists, you can’t see the soloists, and that would be a real shame. But in just a normal orchestral concert, I think the terrace actually provides a much better experience than any other seat. Erik and I have decided that if we subscribe again next year (which is, of course, contingent on where I end up for grad school), we will get terrace seats. We had a great view of most of the orchestra, but most important, we got to see the conductor’s face the entire time. Also, the open seating is very much that–there are not normal seats, but what basically amount to padded benches instead, like in restaurant booths, so we were quite close to the middle-aged couple next to us. They wanted to talk to us so we chatted a bit. Do you know that one of the reasons I love Erik is that we are both growing together, as people? He used to be so quiet and introverted, but he actually talked to the couple before I did, and explained to them a little about the Bartok. I was so pleased. Erik will be embarrassed if he reads this. Too bad, love. ;b
How am I ever going to listen to the “Pastoral” again on CD?!
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]